This past weekend’s “Payback” PPV from WWE really pushed the company’s usual limits with the brutality seen in the match between Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns. Strowman was put over huge by pinning Reigns, and then things went even further as Braun continued the attack and it was really put over that he injured Reigns (and himself in the process.) It was announced that both incurred injuries and would likely be out of action for a while – so all of that was pretty much deflated when a pic is posted of them hanging out together on an overseas tour.
In this day and age of many wondering why wrestling isn’t what it used to be, you’ve got some of the same people saying things like “we all know it’s fake,” “kayfabe is dead,” and “it’s just entertainment,” yet no one seems to be able to put two and two together and figure out what is wrong. Did you ever see Hulk Hogan hanging out with his rivals like Earthquake or Ted Dibiase back in the glory era? Sure, there was no Internet for every bit of information to be shared, but still, wrestlers in that era went out of their way to make sure what you saw on TV was as real as possible.
Of course the posting of the above photo featuring Strowman, Heath Slater, Matt Hardy, Curtis Axel, Reigns, and Titus O’Neil may have not been either guy’s fault as it was apparently posted by O’Neil who may be confused since WWE regularly sends heels to speak at schools and has anti-bullying rallies but then features bullying in just about every angle in WWE. Somehow, no one realizes that even if people know it’s entertainment, their belief can still be suspended if you don’t throw reality in their face.
All this is in the same vein of WWE pretending Roman Reigns valiantly came back at Payback, when he’s actually been appearing at house shows taking on Strowman all this time. We’re willing to bet most people knew wrestling was “entertainment” 20-30 years ago too, but without any visuals of guys really being friends, it was easy to stay engaged with what we saw on TV regardless. Somehow the whole story about Reigns “re-injuring his ribs” and Strowman suffering a “torn rotator cuff” just doesn’t have the same impact after seeing this pic.
Maybe if WWE (and wrestlers too) believed in keeping things as realistic as possible, they might see a lot of interest return to the business.
**The pic has since been deleted, so hopefully SOMEone got that not even TRYING to kayfabe a little bit really does hurt business.